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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


ByDave Stopher

Oct 28, 2023

YOUNG people in Sunderland are getting the opportunity to show they’re game, with a unique project which is aimed at engaging them in positive activities.

The Diversionary Pilot Programme -aka Game On- has been set up by Sunderland BID jointly with the British Esports Federation and the city’s SAIL – Sunderland Altogether Improving Lives – scheme.

And it will give young people aged between 11 and 16 the chance to access a range of exciting games rather than being left to their own devices.

The organisers have worked with the Youth Almighty Community Project which among its many initiatives finds activities to keep young people safe and off the streets, to identify youngsters who would benefit from taking part.

A first group of ten youngsters were invited to attend the initial session at The Place, part of British Esports multi-site venue, the National Esports Performance Campus in Athenaeum Street where they were given access to a range of games and popular esports titles, including F1 racing simulators, gaming consoles and the very latest in high specification gaming PCs.

The aim of the pilot project – which held a second session yesterday (26 Oct)– is to establish a gaming pop up, using the attraction of esports to get young people to engage with youth workers and other professionals in a positive and engaging environment.

It has also been supported by McDonald’s which has provided free food for the participants.

“We are extremely lucky that Sunderland has been chosen to become the esports hub of the UK and is home to the National Esports Performance Campus,” said Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID.

“We are delighted that they have agreed to partner on this exciting pilot project which could be massively beneficial to young people in the city.

“We look forward to taking on board all of the feedback from both the young people and the professionals on the impact of these sessions which will help inform us for future activities.”

Dave Martin, COO British Esports said the organisation was “really pleased to collaborate with Sunderland BID and the city’s SAIL initiative on this fantastic Divisionary Pilot Programme.”

It’s incredibly important for us to provide a safe and engaging space for the young people of Sunderland, and working alongside SAIL reinforces our commitment to making a positive impact in the community,” he said.

“By leveraging the appeal of esports, we aim to connect with these youngsters and create a sanctuary where they can explore exciting activities and build meaningful connections with dedicated youth workers.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, added: “The SAIL project is all about making the city centre safer for residents, businesses, and visitors, and in the year since its launch we have already seen encouraging results.

“We hope that schemes like the Diversionary Pilot Programme will further help us to keep young people safe in the city by giving them somewhere safe to meet and enjoy.

 “The programme is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Sunderland to socialise while learning more about esports, which will play a big role in the future of the city – and it could even spark an interest which sees them play a part in that future.”